NAME: Fred ("Freddie") J. Palmisano

BIRTH DATE/LOCATION:
October 3, 1945, Gretna, Louisiana

DEATH DATE/LOCATION:
February 26, 1990, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Photo: courtesy Estate of Fred Palmisano

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  • IDENTIFICATION AND BIO:
    Composer, Musical Director, Pianist, Vocalist

    Studied piano at University of Southeastern Louisiana and drama at University of New Orleans

    Fred Palmisano created songs and scores for nearly every show in the era now known as "The Golden Age of Children's Corner" at Le Petit Theatre in New Orleans.

    He started playing the piano at age six. While still in elementary school he played for school functions, and as a West Jefferson High School student became the first musical director of the NORD (New Orleans Recreation Department) Theater in Gallier Hall. After graduation Palmisano attended the University of Southeastern Louisiana as a piano major for two years before serving in the Navy, during which time he organized a little theater in Morocco and helped produce a production of Showboat in Scotland. After his discharge he studied drama at the University of New Orleans for two years.

    Palmisano wrote and composed his first successful show for children, Rapunzel, at the Gallery Circle Theater in 1969. Writing with Sharon O'Brien, and later with Ricky Graham, he then composed a series of musical entertainments directed by Luis Barroso and presented in Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré's Children's Corner. These were mini-musicals that appealed to adults as well as children. One of the shows, Rumpelstiltskin, was taped by WYES-TV as a local television special in 1978.

    The children's shows gave way to adult musical revues such as Tunes, A Night on the Town and Nighttime Naughties, and a nightclub act with Becky Allen and Ricky Graham. Palmisano played in theaters, nightclubs, restaurants and piano bars in New Orleans, including the Beverly Dinner Playhouse and Mr. B's Bistro, for more than twenty years.

    Palmisano ended his career with two Le Petit Theatre productions for which he was arranger, composer and keyboard accompanist: Silver Scream, a 30-song revue, and Cinderella Batistella, a New Orleans version of the fairy tale. His last public appearance was the December 17, 1989 performance of Cinderella Battistella at Le Petit Theatre.

    Fred Palmisano died of AIDS in New Orleans at the age of 44 on February 26, 1990.

    —adapted from liner notes to Do You Know What It Means

    WORKS:

    CHILDREN'S THEATRE

    Aladdin and the Magic Lamp
    Adapted by Luis Q. Barroso and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1970-71, 1973-74, 1995-96)

    Beauty and the Beast
    Libretto & Lyrics by Ricky Graham
    Music & Additional Lyrics by Fred J. Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1972-73, 1976-77)
    Revival designed and directed by Edward R. Cox (1996)
    Co-produced by Treehouse Players

    The Brothers Grimm
    Adapted by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1982-83)

    The Brothers Grimm Follies
    Adapted by Luis Q. Barroso and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1971-72)

    The Brothers Grimm Barnyard Revue
    By Fred Palmisano, Ricky Graham, Lyla Hay Owen, and Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1977-78, 1998-99)

    Chicken Little
    Written by Ricky Graham
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1987-88)

    Cinderella Battistella (1989)
    A New Orleans version of the fairy tale
    Written by David Cuthbert and Bob Bruce
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1989)

    The Emperor's New Clothes
    Written by Sharon O'Brien
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1970-71, 1973-74, 1990-91)

    Hansel and Gretel
    Adapted by John Simons and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1972-73, 1991-92)

    Lafitte!
    Written by Sharon O'Brien
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1975)
    Revived at Le Petit Theatre (1992)

    The Little Mermaid
    Adapted by Lyla Hay Owen and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1970-71, 1992-93)

    The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
    Adapted by Sharon O'Brien and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1972-73, 1976-77, 1993-94)
    Educational Arts Program (1999-2000)

    Mother Goose
    Adapted by Sharon O'Brien and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1974-75, 1984-85, 1989-90)

    Peter Darling
    By Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1977-78)

    The Pied Piper
    Adapted by Sydney Wolf and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1978-79, 1992-93)

    Pinocchio Commedia
    Adapted by John Simons from the classic tale by Carlo Collodi A La Commedia Dell'Arte
    Music & Additional Lyrics by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre (1996-97)
    Revival directed and designed by Edward R. Cox, Le Petit Theatre (2000)
    Co-produced by Treehouse Players

    Puss in Boots
    Adapted by Sharon O'Brien and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1976-77, 1988-89, 1998-99)

    Rapunzel
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Book & Lyrics by Sharon O'Brien
    Produced at the Gallery Circle Theater, New Orleans (1969)
    Productions at Children's Corner, Le Petit Theater, New Orleans (1973-74, 1976, 1978, 1982-83, 1986-87, 1998-99)
    Revival co-produced and directed by Edward R. Cox, Teddy's Corner at Le Petit Theatre (1999)
    Co-produced by Treehouse Players

    Robin Hood, Too!
    By Sharon O'Brien and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1979-80)

    Rumpelstiltskin
    Written by Sharon O'Brien
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1973-74, 1977-78, 1987-88, 1999-2000)
    Taped as television special, WYES-TV (1978)

    Sleeping Beauty
    Lyrics by John Simons
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1972-73, 1993-94, 1994-95)

    The Wizard of Oz
    Adapted by Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1986-87)

    The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
    Adapted by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Le Petit Theatre, New Orleans (1970-71)

    MUSICAL REVUES

    Nighttime Naughties (original title)
    Written by Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Originally produced at Beverly Dinner Theatre as A Night On The Town
    Revived as A Night In Old New Orleans at True Brew Theater, New Orleans (2001)

    Peter, Darling!
    Written by Ricky Graham
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Produced and directed by Luis Q. Barroso at Children's Corner

    Play It Again
    Written by Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Beverly Dinner Theatre (1980s)

    Silver Scream
    Written by David Cuthbert and Bob Bruce
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Produced at Rivertown Repertory Theater (1989)
    Revived at Fairmont Hotel Blue Room

    Tunes
    Various lyricists
    Music by Fred Palmisano
    Produced by Luis Q. Barroso and Fred Palmisano at Children's Corner (1974)

    Tunes II produced at Le Petit Theater Main Stage

    PUPPET SHOWS

    Doctor Doolittle
    Written by Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Produced and directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced in Atlanta (venue and year unknown)

    The Reluctant Dragon
    Written by Ricky Graham and Fred Palmisano
    Produced and directed by Luis Q. Barroso
    Produced in Atlanta (venue and year unknown)

    CABARET SONGS
    Numerous cabaret songs, including:
    Too Hot To Trot
    Laundry Man
    Light Up The Sky

    UNCOMPLETED WORKS:
    Unknown

    WRITINGS:
    Unknown

    DISCOGRAPHY:
    (AS PERFORMER):

    Do You Know What It Means, Freddie Palmisano, piano, CD privately produced by NO/AIDS Task Force (date unknown). Available from NO/AIDS Task Force (see Resources).
         Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans
         Life Is Just A Bowl of Cherries
         Foggy Day
         Paper Moon
         Don't Blame Me/Once In A While/Our Romance Bewitched
         New York, New York
         S'Wonderful/The Man I Love/Lady Be Good
         Too Late Now
         Music Box Dancer
         Nice Work If You Can Get It
         How Long Has This Been Going On
         This Can't Be Love
         Spring Is Here/It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Spring/Younger Than Springtime
         Am I Blue?
         Night And Day/Dancing In The Dark/You Do Something To Me
         You Stepped Out Of A Dream/Out Of Nowhere
         Hello Young Lovers
         It's De-lovely
         Someone To Watch Over Me/Somebody Loves Me
         You Can't Take That Away From Me

    VIDEOGRAPHY:

    Rumpelstiltskin by Sharon O'Brien and Fred Palmisano, directed by Luis Q. Barroso, produced at Children's Corner in Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré, taped as television special, WYES-TV (New Orleans) (1978).

    BIBLIOGRAPHY:

    • Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré of New Orleans, Louisiana: 1968-2001 by Rebecca Fichter Hale. Doctoral dissertation, New York University (2002). See Chapter 2: "Teddy's Playhouse for Children: Children's Theater at Le Petit."
    • "The Music Man" by Richard Dodds, Times-Picayune (New Orleans), September 26, 1992 (about second annual "Light Up The Sky" benefit performance of Palmisano's music).
    • "'Cinderella' Benefits UNO's Freddy Fund" by David Cuthbert, Times-Picayune, May 1, 2003 (biographical article).
    • Review of 1999 revival of Rapunzel, Dalt Wonk, Gambit Magazine, May 4, 1999.
    • Article by Mae Acks on Treehouse Players in Vive La Vie Magazine, May 2002 (some Palmisano background).

    PERFORMING RIGHTS AFFILIATION:
    Unknown

    RESOURCES:
    Do You Know What It Means CD is available from:
    NO/AIDS Task Force
    2601 Tulane Avenue, Suite 500
    New Orleans, LA 70119
    (504) 821-2601
    noaidstf@bellsouth.net

    MUSICAL EXECUTOR:
    Tara Doyle (niece)
    1 Kestrel Lane
    Marrero, LA 70072
    (504) 328-8137
    twdoyle7@aol.com

    OTHER CONTACTS:
    Ricky Graham (writer, performer, collaborator)
    3119 Prytania
    New Orleans, LA 70115
    (504) 525-5212
    ricky13@bellsouth.net

    Rebecca Fichter Hale (author of doctoral dissertation about Le Petit Theatre)
    3713 Simone Gardens Apt. D
    Metairie, LA 70002
    (504) 887-2239

    OTHER INFORMATION:

    The Fred J. Palmisano Memorial Scholarship at the University of New Orleans is awarded each year to a deserving theatre student.

    An annual revue called "Light Up The Sky" was produced (1991-1994) by friends and colleagues of Fred Palmisano, as a fundraiser for the scholarship fund.

    ARCHIVES:
    With Tara Doyle (see Musical Executor).
    The University of New Orleans Library has musical theatre scores in its Louisiana and Special Collections.
    Luis Barroso has the scores and audio recordings of the shows he directed (1970-78).
    Estate Project Music Archive has Do You Know What It Means CD and printouts of the articles by David Cuthbert and Richard Dodds.

     


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